Dreaming Blue 540D-4: Nick Marshall's Art of Escape

By Stuber, Tracy | Afterimage, July-October 2015 | Go to article overview

Dreaming Blue 540D-4: Nick Marshall's Art of Escape


Stuber, Tracy, Afterimage


For artist Nick Marshall, the desire for escape is attractively omnipresent--perhaps inescapable. It is in the air, in the water, and on the walls of our homes. We drink FIJI Water and Jimmy Buffett's Landshark Lager, then breathe in and sigh, longing for clearer skies. We paint our bathrooms with Gentle Sea S460-2 and attempt, in the words of Sherwin-Williams, to "turn [our] bathroom into the retreat of [our] dreams."

This advertising slogan served as a guiding mantra for Marshall in his 2013-14 series of photographs and paintings entitled_e_scapes. The horizon provides his guideline, as it has for writers and thinkers throughout the history of Western culture. Herman Melville wrote of the torment that comes with an insatiable desire for the remote; Rebecca Solnit reminds us that "something of desire will only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition ... the blue instead tints the next beyond." (1) Through his interrelated projects, Marshall charts the shifting blues of the beyond as they absorb, reflect, and refract our lust for escape.

In the photographs, snapshots and slides float in blue expanses, although whether of water or air is unclear. These solid backgrounds are samples, via Photoshop's eyedropper tool, of the incorporated images, enveloping the scenes in their own chromatic aura. The singularity of each of Marshall's physical objects takes shape in the bends, folds, and decay of their photographic material. In the context of our digital present, these images might be seen to suspend the gravitational pull of obsolescence. While each photograph refers to an earlier time, it also denotes itself, asserts itself, as an autonomous entity. Thus, the images capture an attractive, even magical moment of weightless escape from the reality of contemporary technology, a pause in the progression of time. They offer the viewer an opportunity to attend to each object's internal horizon, and to participate in the longing for the remote it inspires. By dramatizing the ephemerality of the snapshot, Marshall suggests there is something worth preserving about this obsolete form within and against the photographic present.

Yet the images also work against nostalgia, trapping the tangible in the optical appeal of the paper's hyper-glossy surface. The appealing colored backgrounds plunge the images into the realm of advertising, and they resurface as parodies of commercial sets. The snapshots denote vacation and leisure while their surroundings connote it, suggesting calm skies and clear water in which the objects appear, now literally, to float. The sea provides a backdrop, and the engulfed photographs are recast as commodities, selling back to us the narrative from which they sprang. Distance becomes a desirable commodity. With these images, Marshall reveals the common ground between nostalgia and vacation as analogous forms of escape, one temporal and the other spatial. Both advertise opportunities to withdraw from the present. But of course, such retreat is necessarily short-lived, a temporary illusion much like the trompe-l'oeil effect of the floating photographs. It temporarily fulfills a need while simultaneously generating another.

It is relevant that the very technology that produced Marshall's image-objects, the technology of color photography, arose largely at the behest of early twentieth-century advertising. (2) Rapid development in the dye industry post-World War I enabled manufacturers to produce their wares in an unparalleled variety of hues. In the 1920s, the technology finally developed, largely in response to the frustrating variation among dyes and printing processes. For advertisers, it became clear that color photography was necessary to provide the levels of naturalism and accuracy needed to truly convey the specifics--and the appeal--of the newly colored commodities to consumers.

After much experimentation, the medium stabilized in the mid-1930s and spread gradually to other areas of photography, first vernacular and, more slowly, artistic. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Dreaming Blue 540D-4: Nick Marshall's Art of Escape
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.